Music of a thousand and one nights Reply

by Judith Caldwell

reviewerJudithOn Wednesday, July 10th the National Academy Orchestra of the Brott Music Festival gave us a varied program of music and art culminating in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

The evening began with a new and very Canadian composition by John Gray. The composer told us this music was inspired by the movements of a standard bred poodle both on and off the leash and it ends with a dissonance where he imagines the dog meets a Rottweiler. It was a very evocative and musically appropriate image.1001 nights

Then we moved on to Camille Saint-Saens Piano Concerto #2 which he apparently tossed off in three weeks. Our soloist, Anita Pari, made it look just as easy to play even though we know it is not. The orchestra and soloist gave us a lovely youthful, enthusiastic interpretation of this favourite piece. Ms Pari is only 15 years of age, but played with poise and confidence and deserved her standing ovation from the audience.

After intermission our piano soloist (remember she is only 15) from the first half returned to solo on cello in Alexander Brott’s Arabesque. This is a splendidly colourful work, wonderful cadenzas for the cello and long romantic lines for the orchestra – it gets better each time I hear it, especially played by such a talented soloist and orchestra.

Finally we got to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade and a rather complicated presentation. The first movement was conducted by Brendan Hagan then Boris Brott took over and in the fourth and final movement Josh Tiessen a 17 year old artist completed one of his ‘high realist’ paintings, finishing with the final chords of the music.

It was an interesting presentation of this gorgeous music. It is rare for all four movements of a work to be equally well known and well loved, but that is the case with Scheherazade. Brendan Hagan is a good conductor and the orchestra responds well to him, but when Boris Brott takes up the baton it is obvious that Brendan still has a bit to learn. The orchestra really came alive for Maestro Brott and delivered the best Scheherazade I have ever heard. The first violin opened each movement and was answered by the harp, clarinet or bassoon. I think each reed and brass instrument had a solo somewhere and the interplay was perfect. I must admit I blissed out to the music and found the painting at the same time a bit distracting.

Josh had a number of his paintings of various subjects on display and there is no doubt he is technically extremely talented, but I feel he is still painting ‘in the style of…’ and I will be fascinated to see what happens when he finds his our vision – that will be something worth seeing.

It is wonderful that we have so much young talent around and that we have Boris Brott who is intent on showing it off. Thanks Boris.

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